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The Other Side of the Equation

2010 October 6
by Skip Sauer

After reporting on Northeastern’s decision to drop football last Sunday, today Shira Springer turns her attention to schools that are launching new programs.  Here are some snips from the article:

… according to [Old Dominion] athletic director Wood Selig, “It’s a million-dollar profit center for athletics.’’

While schools such as Northeastern, Boston University, and Hofstra dropped football, saying the price tag was too high, Old Dominion and 20 other schools (six at the FCS level) reached the opposite conclusion. Along with Old Dominion, four schools launched football programs in 2009 and six followed this season. Another six plan to start play in 2011, two in 2012, and two in 2013.

…“The slogan we have is: ‘We’re the next great Texas university,’ ’’ said UT-San Antonio coach Larry Coker. “To do that, the feeling was football had to be a piece of the puzzle.’’

San Antonio is the perfect place to start a football team. The seventh-largest US city sits in the middle of football-crazy Texas with no professional or major college football team. Coker and his 2001 national championship credentials from Miami don’t need to travel far for recruits. And the larger San Antonio community, not just students and alumni, is eagerly anticipating the first home game in the Alamodome.

…Student fee increases cover a big chunk of start-up expenses: facilities, equipment, player recruitment, coaches. Yeager said launching a new program typically costs $30 million-$80 million for a team at the FCS level.“Buying helmets and shoulder pads is the tip of the iceberg,’’ said Yeager. “Your weight room is not big enough. Your equipment room is not big enough. You don’t own enough lawn mowers. The high-end number depends on what may or may not be already in place, especially with the stadium situation.’’

Old Dominion paid for $25 million worth of Foreman Field renovations with student fees, donations, and advance ticket sales, installing new locker rooms, a 17-foot-by-30-foot video board and AstroTurf, among other amenities. Lamar spent $30 million on a new state-of-the-art fieldhouse and stadium upgrades.

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